Ambassador Avant Presents over $48,000 to Local Organizations For HIV/AIDS Prevention

From left: Mr. Keith Kemp, Chairman, Youth Ambassadors for Positive Living; Ms. Odette Knowles, Chairperson, Grand Bahama Red Rose Ball Committee; Dr. Perry Gomez, Director, Bahamas National HIV/AIDS Centre; United States Ambassador to The Bahamas Nicole A. Avant; Ms. Joan Lightbourne, Bahamas AIDS Foundation; Mr. Stevenson Smith, Assistant Superintendent, Her Majesty’s Prisons; Mr. Ronald Horton, Chairman, The South Eleuthera Mission and Mr. Varouj Symonette, Executive Director, Bahamas United Limited. (Photo Courtesy Timothy Clarke)

In response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge to the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS, on Wednesday, September 21, U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas Nicole Avant announced the seven recipients of the 2011 Ambassador’s Fund for HIV/AIDS Prevention totaling $48,118. Grant recipients on hand for the press conference included The National HIV/AIDS Centre, The Bahamas AIDS Foundation, Her Majesty’s Prisons, the Grand Bahama Red Rose Ball Committee, The South Eleuthera Mission, Youth Ambassadors for Positive Living and Bahamas United Limited.

Ambassador’s Fund for HIV/AIDS Prevention Small Grants Program supports projects that promote HIV/AIDS prevention –particularly among youth – and reduce the stigma attached to those living with the disease

In her remarks, Ambassador Avant applauded all of the local organizations that are working to combat HIV/AIDS, and stressed her continued commitment to actively supporting grassroots prevention efforts throughout The Bahamas.

“We are here to celebrate and award the work of the dedicated men and women in The Bahamas who work tirelessly to promote education and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” Ambassador Avant told the group. “I am confident that these projects will have a significant impact in The Bahamas and will serve as regional and global models of excellence.”

This year alone, through PEPFAR, the U.S. government has committed more than $1.6 million in assistance to The Bahamas in the areas of prevention, strategic information, laboratory strengthening, and human capacity development. The PEPFAR agreement provides The Bahamas with more than $5 million in U.S. assistance over the next several years to support the fight against HIV and AIDS.

The seven grants in support of this year’s Ambassador’s Fund for HIV/AIDS Prevention will be used for the following activities:

· The Ministry of Heath’s National HIV Centre will establish a “Train the Trainers” program where Creole speakers will receive training on HIV prevention, transmission and treatment for education programs in the Haitian Community;

· The Bahamas AIDS Foundation will promote the documentary, How We Live; A Portrait of Hope, by Bahamian filmmakers Kareem Mortimer and Maria Govan through public showings on New Providence and the Family Islands;

· Her Majesty’s Prisons will establish a pilot program to promote HIV/AIDS awareness among the high-risk prison population;

· The Grand Bahama Red Rose Ball Committee – the primary fundraiser for HIV/AIDS education on Grand Bahama – will raise awareness among at risk teens through its “Teen PEP” afterschool program;

· On World AIDS Day, South Eleuthera Mission will launch ten weeks of community events in coordination with the Rock Sound Clinic with the goal of raising awareness among youth;

· Youth Ambassadors for Positive Living will promote preventative measures among youth living in New Providence’s inner city neighborhoods through community forums, youth empowerment seminars, concerts and community walkabouts;

· Bahamas United Limited will launch “Do it Right”, a web-based social media campaign focused on HIV/AIDS prevention.

The U.S. Embassy remains committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS, and is unwavering in its support. It is hoped that these creative outreach efforts will assist in further strengthening The Bahamas’ ability to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.